Sunday, December 25, 2005

Happy Holidays from Darren!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone out there in the blog universe!

I'll be back at the beginning of next year with my list of most anticipated films of 2006! Plus, towards the end of January, I'll reveal my top films of 2005 and the official DKME awards. YIP YIP! All that, and more awards season coverage!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Random Thoughts: The Family Stone

The Family Stone is a pretty, liberal fantasy facade in which the free spirited, forward family in a New England town welcome in the big city, uptight, slightly conservative girlfriend of their son for Christmas. One son is a pot smoking film editor, one daughter a bitchy, poorly dressed most likely student - what she does isn't quite identified i don't think, and another son is deaf, gay, and planning on adopting a child with his black boyfriend. By the end, of course, someone will have revealed they have cancer, scenes of forced slapstick will have occured, the gay couple will hold hands while walking down the street, everyone will indulge in a nice group hug as the lefties proudly pull the stick out of the conservative bitch's ass then pat themselves on the back at a job well done. And you know what?

I'll be damned if I wasn't smiling and nearly crying like a little girl during parts of it. If you're not a cynic and up for it, it's a sweet little gem expertly acted by everyone involved. In particular, Sarah Jessica Parker shines in her first big screen outting since her vibrant show left the air. Writer/director Thomas Bezucha proves himself a talent to watch. One major flaw: letting Rachel McAdams shine in the first act then pushing her to the side as the film progresses. I would say that, wouldn't I? I love Rachel. And yes, the final shot of the film practically pinches you till you cry, but ah well.

The Family Stone - 8/10

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Next To Last Oscar Predix...

1. Brokeback Mountain
2. Good Night and Good Luck
3. Walk the Line
4. Munich
5. Match Point

1. Ang Lee - Brokeback Mountain
2. George Clooney - Good Night and Good Luck
3. Steven Spielberg - Munich
4. David Cronenberg - A History of Violence
5. Woody Allen - Match Point

1. Heath Ledger - Brokeback Mountain
2. Philip Seymour Hoffman - Capote
3. Joaquin Phoenix - Walk the Line
4. David Strathairn - Good Night and Good Luck
5. Jeff Daniels - The Squid and the Whale

1. Reese Witherspoon - Walk the Line
2. Felicity Huffman - Transamerica
3. Judi Dench - Mrs. Henderson Presents
4. Keira Knightley - Pride and Prejudice
5. Joan Allen - The Upside of Anger

Supp. Actor:
1. Paul Giamatti - Cinderella Man
2. Matt Dillon - Crash
3. Jake Gyllenhaal - Brokeback Mountain
4. Bob Hoskins - Mrs. Henderson Presents
5. George Clooney - Syriana

Supp. Actress:
1. Scarlett Johansson - Match Point
2. Michelle Williams - Brokeback Mountain
3. Maria Bello - A History of Violence
4. Rachel Weisz - The Constant Gardener
5. Diane Keaton - The Family Stone

Original Screenplay:
1. Good Night and Good Luck
2. Crash
3. The Squid and the Whale
4. Match Point
5. Me and You and Everyone We Know

Adapted Screenplay:
1. Brokeback Mountain
2. Capote
3. Munich
4. The Constant Gardener
5. Walk the Line

Art Direction:
1. Memoirs of a Geisha
2. The Chronicles of Narnia
3. King Kong
4. Cinderella Man
5. Good Night and Good Luck

1. Brokeback Mountain
2. Good Night and Good Luck
3. Memoirs of a Geisha
4. The New World
5. Munich

Costume Design:
1. Memoirs of a Geisha
2. Pride and Prejudice
3. Casanova
4. Walk the Line
5. Mrs. Henderson Presents

1. Crash
2. Brokeback Mountain
3. Munich
4. The Constant Gardener
5. Walk the Line

1. Brokeback Mountain
2. Cinderella Man
3. Memoirs of a Geisha
4. Munich
5. The New World

1. "There's Nothing Like a Show on Broadway" - The Producers
2. "Travelin' Thru" - Transamerica
3. "In the Deep" - Crash
4. "Hustle & Flow" - Hustle & Flow
5. "Dreamer" - Dreamer

1. King Kong
2. Walk the Line
3. War of the Worlds
4. Star Wars: Ep. 3
5. Batman Begins

Sound Editing:
1. King Kong
2. War of the Worlds
3. Star Wars: ep. 3

Best Visual Effects:
1. Star Wars: Ep. 3
2. King Kong
3. Chronicles of Narnia

Best Makeup:
1. Chronicles of Narnia
2. Memoirs of a Geisha
3. Sin City

Animated Feature:
1. Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
2. Tim Burton's Corpse Bride
3. Chicken Little

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Box Office Predictions: Dec. 23 - 25

The hardest weekend to predict. EVER. Apparently, Monday is part of the holiday weekend but I'm only doing a 3-day. I also won't be predicting final grosses. Ugh, here goes:

(3 day - Gross So Far)

1. King Kong - $26m / $118m
2. Chronicles of Narnia - $19m / $153m
3. Fun With Dick and Jane - $18m / $27m (opens Wed)
4. Cheaper by the Dozen 2 - $15m / $22m (opens Wed)
5. Memoirs of a Geisha - $9m / $12m (expands Fri)
6. The Family Stone - $9m / $29m
7. Rumor Has It - $5m / $5m (opens Sun)
8. Munich - $4m / $4m (opens Fri)
9. The Ringer - $4m / $4m (opens Fri)
10. Harry Potter - $3m / $260m
11. Brokeback Mountain - $2.5m / $8m
12. The Producers - $2.5m / $2.6m (expands Sun)
13. Syriana - $2.5m / $28.5m
14. Walk the Line - $2m / $87m
15. Yours, Mine & Ours - $1.5m / $49m
16. Wolf Creek - $1m / $1m (opens Sun)

More critics awards.....they just never end, do they?

Catherine Keener winning so many supporting actress awards is very annoying. She DOES NOT IN ANY WAY, SHAPE OR FORM deserve the attention she is getting for Capote. This is clearly just a "hey, we like you and you were in lots of stuff this year" thing. Think it's similar to John C. Reilly in 2002? IT'S NOT. AT ALL. Reilly was deserving for two of his performances. Keener was good in all her work, but none of them approaches greatness or the heights she has hit several times in her previous efforts - most notably Being John Malkovich or Walking and Talking. I love this woman to no end, but I find it a little insulting she's getting such notices just for being so reliable in so many films this year. I actually thought she was best in 40 Year Old Virgin where she showcased her spunky, indie variation of Sandra Bullock that she does so damn well.

I'm still mulling over when I will announce the DKME awards. Hehe. Wait and see. Probably late January. I don't have the advantage of being invited to posh advance screenings. I have to wait impatiently like every other average moviegoer.

San Diego Film Critics Society:
Picture: King Kong
Director: Bennett Miller, Capote
Actor: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote
Actress: Joan Allen, The Upside of Anger
S. Actor: Jeffrey Wright, Broken Flowers
S. Actress: Rachel Weisz, The Constant Gardener
O. Screenplay: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
A. Screenplay: Capote
Documentary: Grizzly Man
Foreign:Innocent Voices
Animated: Howl's Moving Castle

Las Vegas Film Critics:
Picture: Brokeback Mountain
Director: Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain
Actor: Heath Ledger, Brokeback Mountain
Actress: Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line
S. Actor: Matt Dillon, Crash
S. Actress: Frances McDormand, North Country
Screenplay: Crash
Documentary: March of the Penguins
Foreign: Kung Fu Hustle
Animated: Wallace & Gromit

Southeastern Film Critics:
1. Brokeback Mountain
2. Good Night, and Good Luck
3. Capote
4. Crash
5. A History of Violence
6. The Constant Gardener
7. Syriana
8. Cinderella Man
9. King Kong
10. Walk the Line

Winner - Caché
Runner-up - Kung-fu Hustle

Winner - Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain
Runner-up George Clooney, Good Night, and Good Luck.

Winner - Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote
Runner up - Heath Ledger, Brokeback Mountain

Winner - Felicity Huffman, Transamerica
Runner-up - Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line

Winner - Paul Giamatti, Cinderella Man
Runner-up - George Clooney, Syriana

Winner - Amy Adams, Junebug
Runner-up - Michelle Williams, Brokeback Mountain

Winners - Paul Haggis and Bobby Moresco, Crash
Runners-up - George Clooney and Grant Herslov, Good Night, and Good Luck.

Winners - Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana, Brokeback Mountain
Runner-up Dan Futterman, Capote

Winner - March of the Penguins
Runner-up - Grizzly Man

Winner - Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
Runner-up - Tim Burton's Corpse Bride

Dallas Fort Worth Critics Association Awards:
1. Brokeback Mountain
2. Capote
3. Good Night and Good Luck
4. Crash
5. Cinderella Man
6. Syriana
7. Pride and Prejudice
8. A History of Violence
9. King Kong
10. Three Burials of Melquisades Estrada

1. Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain
2. George Clooney, Good Night and Good Luck
3. Bennett Miller, Capote
4. Peter Jackson, King Kong
5. Paul Haggis, Crash

1. Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote
2. Heath Ledger, Brokeback Mountain
3. David Strathairn, Good Night and Good Luck
4. Joaquin Phoenix, Walk the Line
5. Russell Crowe, Cinderella Man

1. Felicity Huffman, Transamerica
2. Keira Knightley, Pride and Prejudice
3. Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line
4. Joan Allen, The Upside of Anger
5. Charlize Theron, North Country

Supporting ACTOR
1. Matt Dillon, Crash
2. Paul Giamatti, Cinderella Man
3. Jake Gyllenhaal, Brokeback Mountain
4. George Clooney, Syriana
5. Jesse Eisenberg, The Squid and the Whale

Supporting ACTRESS
1. Catherine Keener, Capote
2. Michelle Williams, Brokeback Mountain
3. Rachel Weisz, The Constant Gardener
4. Scarlett Johansson, Match Point
5. Amy Adams, Junebug

Brokeback Mountain
RU: Capote

Wallace and Gromit
RU: Corpse Bride

1. Paradise Now
2. Kung Fu Hustle
3. Downfall
4. Nobody Knows
5. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress

1. Murderball
2. March of the Penguins
3. Grizzly Man
4. Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room
5. Mad Hot Ballroom

Me, You and Everyone We Know

London Film Critics Awards Nominations:
The Attenborough Award for British Film of the Year
Pride and Prejudice
Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
The Constant Gardener
The Descent
Mrs Henderson Presents

Film of the Year
A History of Violence
Brokeback Mountain
King Kong
The Constant Gardener

Foreign Film
The Sea Inside
The Beat My Heart Skipped
The Chorus

British Newcomer
Joe Wright (director, Pride and Prejudice)
Kelly Reilly (actress, Mrs Henderson Presents)
Annie Griffin (writer-director Festival)
Julian Fellowes (director, Separate Lies)
Matthew MacFadyen (Pride and Prejudice)

Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana ( Brokeback Mountain)
Paul Haggis and Bobby Moresco (Crash)
Jeffrey Caine (The Constant Gardener)
Shane Black (Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang)
Bernd Eichinger (Downfall)

British Producer
Peter Lord (Wallace & Gromit:The Curse of the Were-Rabbit)
Simon Channing-Williams (The Constant Gardener)
Andrew Eaton and Michael Winterbottom (A Cock and Bull Story)
Christian Colson (The Descent – Pathe and Separate Lies)
Mark Boothe and Ruth Caleb (Bullet Boy)

British Actress in Supporting Role
Thandie Newton (Crash)
Sophie Okenedo (Hotel Rwanda)
Tilda Swinton (The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe)
Rosamund Pike (Pride and Prejudice)
Brenda Blethyn (Pride and Prejudice)

British Actor in Supporting Role
Brenda Gleeson (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire)
James McAvoy (The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe)
Paddy Considine (Cinderella Man)
Tom Hollander (Pride and Prejudice)
Cillian Murphy (Batman Begins)

British Actress
Rachel Weisz (The Constant Gardener)
Judi Dench (Mrs Henderson Presents)
Keira Knightley (Pride and Prejudice)
Emily Watson (Separate Lies)
Kirstin Scott Thomas (Keeping Mum)

British Actor of the Year
Ralph Fiennes (The Constant Gardener)
Christian Bale (The Machinist)
Liam Neeson (Kinsey)
Chiwetl Ejiofor (Kinky Boots)
Tom Wilkinson (Separate Lies)

British Director of the Year
Joe Wright – (Pride and Prejudic)
Terry George – (Hotel Rwanda)
Neil Marshall – (The Descent)
Christopher Nolan (Batman Begins)
Stephen Frears (Mrs Henderson Presents)

Actress of the Year
Juliette Binoche (Hidden)
Naomi Watts (King Kong)
Catalina Sandino Moreno (Maria Full of Grace)
Laura Linney (Kinsey)
Maria Bello (A History of Violence)

Actor of the Year
Bruno Ganz (Downfall)
Heath Ledger ( Brokeback Mountain)
Don Cheadle (Hotel Rwanda; Crash)
Viggo Mortensen (A History of Violence)
Johnny Depp (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory)-

Fernando Meirelles (The Constant Gardener)
Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain)
Paul Haggis (Crash)
Peter Jackson (King Kong)
David Cronenberg (A History of Violence)

Sunday, December 18, 2005

You are to become GEISHA!

You know what's a lot of fun?

Randomly quoting the Memoirs of a Geisha trailer.

If you've seen at least 2 movies in the past 5 months in theatres, you've probably seen this trailer. Those of you, like me, who go every week probably have seen it dozens of times. The trailer sure is pretty looking but a tad melodramatic. This is why its fun to randomly quote the trailer since all the lines have been beaten into your mind since you first saw it.

Por ejemplo...

The other night I was in the living room with my parents. We were debating what to watch on TV, but they didn't want to watch what I did.


Then my dad slapped me across the face and yelled "I SHALL DESTROY YOU!"

My mom got pissed and went "IT IS OFF TO SCHOOL WITH YOU."

Now, I have to become a Geisha.

I bump into people on the street and say "Now, we are rivals."

Every step I have taken has been to bring myself closer to this blog entry.

Memoirs of a Geisha opens in theatres everywhere this Friday.

Cowboys - Not Kong - King of the Box Office


King Kong made an underwhelming but not terrible $50m over the weekend bringing its total up to $66m since its release on Wednesday. While headlines tomorrow will probably sound like the already ubiquitous "KONG BOMB", there's no real reason to panic. It should be able to pull in a domestic gross of around $200-230m. In just 69 theatres, Brokeback Mountain made an estimated $2.4m, making it into the top 10. This is the first time in over 10 years a movie has been in the top 10 and playing in less than 100 theatres. The Family Stone, budgeted at $18m, also made an impressive $12.5m and should benefit from word of mouth, prospering over the holiday period. Over the course of the next week, 8 movies are opening in moderate to wide release. My predictions for their grosses will be up Tuesday evening.

In the meantime, Focus has given a rough outline for the Brokeback Mountain release plan:

Dec. 23 - 120 theatres
Jan. 6 - 275 theatres
Jan. 13 - 400 theatres

Most likely, a wide release (1000+ theatres) will be held off until the Oscar nominations are announced, if not the Friday before. (That would be Jan. 27.)

Also, the film won 4 Golden Satellites over the weekend: Best Picture - Drama, Best Director - Ang Lee, Best Song - "A Love That Will Never Grow Old", and Best Film Editing.

i told you, kong, america loves homosexuality and not beastiality

Thursday, December 15, 2005

'Brokeback" will get one less Oscar nomination....

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced its contenders for Best Original Song with none of the contributions from the Brokeback Mountain soundtrack on the list. Focus has been pushing the EmmyLou Harris song "A Love That Will Never Grow Old" in its campaign for the film, but apparently the music branch of the Academy decided the song either wasn't played long enough in the film or wasn't audible. Yes, now in addition to placement in the film, you also have to be in a decent amount of screentime and have to be heard loud and clear. I'm starting to get why some people want this category gone altogether from the Oscars.

Here's the list of contenders.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Box Office Predictions: Dec. 16 - 18 (Updated 12/15)

1. King Kong - $66m / $105m / $370m
2. Chronicles of Narnia - $34m / $118m / $205m
3. The Family Stone - $13m / $13m / $55m
4. Syriana - $6.5m / $24m / $40m
5. Harry Potter - $5.5m / $252m / $266m
6. Walk the Line - $4m / $83m / $100m
7. Yours, Mine & Ours - $3m / $44.5m / $48m
8. Brokeback Mountain
3-day: $2.5m
Theatre Count: 69
Gross So Far: $3.5m

9. Just Friends - $2m / $29.5m / $33m
10. Pride and Prejudice - $1.8m / $29.5m / $35m
11. Memoirs of a Geisha - $1.8m / $3m / ?

this is one of those movie moments that darren wishes he was in on

Golden Globe Reaction!



Joan Allen and Jake Gyllenhaal!!!!! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!
Why? WHY!

Supporting Actor is the WEAKEST category ever. I mean, Will Farell?!?!?!?

WONDERFUL NEWS: Bello & A History of Violence. I was distraught when they announced supporting. WHAT!! NO MARIA! Okay, it's fine. She was in for The Cooler. Then, they announced Lead Drama. And I squealed with delight. Biggest "WAHOO!" of the morning. Then I yelled BEEEEEEEEEELLLLLLLLLLLLLLLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

To quote Angie, I bellowed BELLO.

(This is what it's like watching awards announcements with me.)

Steve Carell & Kate Beckinsale are lovely. I loved Depandi on E! interviewing Steve telling him how great he was in Brokeback Mountain.

I'm glad they didn't nominate Keener for 4 good performances, but none of them were great.

NO AMY ADAMSS!!!! YOU FUCKTARDS!!!! How can you diss someone so sweet and innocent!
You must not have seen Junebug.

Mark Wahlberg needs some sleep. He also needs to learn how to be prepared and pronounce words like Beckinsale can. She was so elegant.

I'm still not seeing Underturd 2.

No Diane Keaton? Maclaine is the vet they went with.

Carrie Bradshaw & Jen Lindley rule the world!

The official "Go _______" list:
-Brokeback Mountain & its 7 nominations!
-A History of Violence (BEEEELLLLLOOO!)
-Eva Longoria. Eva needs to win Comedy Actress so bad!
-Reese & Joaquin.
-Keira & Pride and Prejudice
-Clooney. Cary Grant of the generation? Plus, he can direct. Robert Redford of the generation?
-ScarJo is my bitch.
-I am Felicity Huffman's bitch.
-Terence Howard is the male Rachel McAdams. Oh! I just did.
-Phillip Seymour Hoffman & Matt Dillon and other underappreciateds finally getting their due.
-Laura Linney & Jeff Daniels were so great in Squid and the Whale. BUT. I. HATED. THAT. FUCKING. MOVIE.
-Good surprises like The Constant Gardener.

FOCUS FEATURES. HELL YES....MIRAMAX IS DEAD AND WE GET A GREAT INDIE COMPANY THAT WILL WIN BEST PICTURE THIS YEAR!!!!!!!! Continue making great and challenging films for not a lot of money with the best resources. Ye shall reep the rewards.

Best Drama is easily the strongest category of the year.

A year without Nicole or Renee? How will the Globes survive?



I just realized Scarlett Johansson and Soon-Yi are going to be at the same table.

It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine.

Golden Globe Nominations!

For TV coverage, check Angie's blog.

Best Picture (Drama):
Brokeback Mountain - The Constant Gardener - Good Night and Good Luck - A History o Violence - Match Point

Best Picture (Comedy/Musical):
Mrs. Henderson Presents - Pride and Prejudice - The Producers - The Squid and the Whale - Walk the Line

Wooody Allen - Match Point
George Clooney - Good Night and Good Luck
Peter Jackson - King Kong
Ang Lee - Brokeback Mountain
Fernando Mereilles - The Constant Gardener
Steven Spielberg - Munich

Brokeback Mountain - Crash - Good Night and Good Luck - Match Point - Munich

Actor (Drama):
Russell Crowe - Cinderella Man
Philip Seymour Hoffman - Capote
Terence Howard - Hustle and Flow
Heath Ledger - Brokeback Mountain
David Strathairn - Good Night and Good Luck

Actress (Drama)
Maria Bello - A History of Violence
Felicity Huffman - Transamerica
Gwyneth Paltrow - Proof
Charlize Theron - North Country
Ziyi Zhang - Memoirs of a Geisha

Actor (Musical/Comedy)
Pierce Brosnan - The Matador
Jeff Daniels - The Squid and the Whale
Johnny Depp - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Nathan Lane - The Producers
Cillian Murphy - Breakfast on Pluto
Joaquin Phoenix - Walk the Line

Actress (Musical/Comedy)
Judi Dench - Mrs. Henderson Presents
Keira Knightley - Pride and Prejudice
Laura Linney - The Squid and the Whale
Sarah Jessica Parker - The Family Stone
Reese Witherspoon - Walk the Line

Supporting Actor:
George Clooney - Syriana
Matt Dillon - Crash
Will Farell - The Producers
Paul Giamatti - Cinderella Man
Bob Hoskins - Mrs. Henderson Presents

Supporting Actress:
Scarlett Johansson - Match Point
Shirley MacLaine - In Her Shoes
Frances McDormand - North Country
Rachel Weisz - The Constant Gardener
Michelle Williams - Brokeback Mountain

Original Score:
Brokeback Mountain - Chronicles of Narnia - King Kong - Memoirs of a Geisha - Syriana

Brokeback Mountain - Christmas in Love - Chronicles of Narnia - The Produercers -= Transamerica

Foreign Language Film:
Kung Fu Hustle - Merry Christmas - Paradise Now - The Promise - Tsotsi

Monday, December 12, 2005

Big surprise: San Fran goes Brokeback, Washington goes Munich

San Fransisco Film Critics Circle:

Best Picture: Brokeback Mountain
Best Director: Ang Lee - Brokeback Mountain
Best Actor: Heath Ledger - Brokeback Mountain
Best Actress: Reese Witherspoon - Walk the Line
Best Supporting Actor: Kevin Costner - The Upside of Anger
Best Supporting Actress: Amy Adams - Junebug
Best Screenplay: Good Night and Good Luck

Washington Critics Awards:

Best Film: Munich
Best Director: Steven Spielberg - Munich
Best Actor: Philiep Seymour Hoffman - Capote
Best Actress: Reese Witherspoon - Walk the Line
Best Supporting Actor: Paul Giamatti - Cinderella Man
Best Supporting Actress: Amy Adams - Junebug
Best Original Screenplay: Crash
Best Adapted Screenplay: Capote
Best Foreign Film: Kung Fu Hustle
Best Animated Feature: Wallace and Gromit
Best Breakthrough Performance: Terrence Howard - Hustle and Flow
Best Ensemble: Crash

National Board of Review & New York Film Critics Circle Announce...

National Board of Review:
Website here for complete awards list.

Best Film: Good Night and Good Luck

Top 10 Films:
Brokeback Mountain - Capote - Crash - Good Night and Good Luck - A History of Violence - Match Point - Memoirs of a Geisha - Munich - Syriana - Walk the Line

Best Director: Ang Lee - Brokeback Mountain

Best Actor: Philip Seymour Hoffman - Capote
Best Actress: Felicity Huffman - Transamerica
Best Supporting Actor: Jake Gyllenhaal - Brokeback Mountain
Best Supporting Actress: Gong Li - Memoirs of a Geisha
Best Acting By An Ensemble: Mrs. Henderson Presents
Breakthrough Performance Actor: Terrence Dashon Howard - Crash & Get Rich or Die Tryin' & Hustle and Flow
Breakthrough Performance Actress: Q'Orianka Kilcher - The New World
Best Directorial Debut: Julian Fellowes - Separate Lies
Best Adapted Screenplay: Syriana
Best Original Screenplay: The Squid and the Whale

New York Film Critics Circle:
Website here.

Picture: Brokeback Mountain
Director: Ang Lee - Brokeback Mountain
Actor: Heath Ledger - Brokeback Mountain
Actress: Reese Witherspoon - Walk the Line
Best Supporting Actor: William Hurt - A History of Violence
Best Supporting Actress: Maria Bello - A History of Violence
Best Animated Film: Howl's Moving Castle
Best Screenplay: The Squid and the Whale
Best Documentary: Grizzly Man and White Diamond
Best Foreign Film: 2046
Best Cinematography: 2046

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Golden Globe Predix!

They will be announced by Kate Beckinsale, Steve Carell & Mark Wahlberg on Tuesday morning. Afterwards, that trio will engage in a threesome on live television. Be sure to tune in.

Picture (Drama)
Brokeback Mountain - Crash - Good Night and Good Luck - King Kong - Munich
6th: Capote

Picture (Comedy/Musical)
The Family Stone - Pride and Prejudice - The Producers - Walk the Line - Wedding Crashers
6th: The Squid and the Whale

Ang Lee - Brokeback Mountain
George Clooney - Good Night and Good Luck
Peter Jackson - King Kong
Steven Spielberg - Munich
James Mangold - Walk the Line
6th: Woody Allen - Match Point

Actor (Drama)
Eric Bana - Munich
Philip Seymour Hoffman - Capote
Terrence Howard - Hustle & Flow
Heath Ledger - Brokeback MountainDavid Strathairn - Good Night and Good Luck

Actor (Comedy/Musical)
Steve Carell - The 40 Year Old Virgin
Nathan Lane - The Producers
Heath Ledger - Casanova
Joaquin Phoenix - Walk the Line
Vince Vaughn - Wedding Crashers
6th: Jeff Daniels - The Squid and the Whale

Actress (Drama)
Joan Allen - The Upside of Anger
Felicity Huffman - Transamerica
Gwyneth Paltrow - Proof
Charlize Theron - North Country
Naomi Watts - King Kong
6th: Toni Collette - In Her Shoes

Actress (Comedy/Musical)
Jennifer Aniston - Rumor Has It
Judi Dench - Mrs. Henderson Presents
Keira Knightley - Pride and Prejudice
Sarah Jessica Parker - The Family Stone
Reese Witherspoon - Walk the Line
6th: Meryl Streep - Prime

Supporting Actor:
George Clooney - Syriana
Kevin Costner - The Upside of Anger
Matt Dillon - Crash
Paul Giamatti - Cinderella Man
Jake Gyllenhaal - Brokeback Mountain
6th: Craig T. Nelson - The Family Stone

Supporting Actress:
Amy Adams - Junebug
Maria Bello - A History of Violence
Scarlett Johansson - Match Point
Diane Keaton - The Family Stone
Michelle Williams - Brokeback Mountain
6th: Gong Li - Memoirs of a Geisha

Brokeback Mountain - Capote - Crash - Good Night and Good Luck - Munich
6th: Match Point

Brokeback Mountain - Cinderella Man - Memoirs of a Geisha - Munich - Pride & Prejudice
6th: King Kong

Brokeback Mountain - Tim Burton's Corpse Bride - Crash - Hustle & Flow - The Producers
6th: Transamerica

Brokeback's Opening Weekend Goes Beyond Box Office Numbers - The Critics Declare a Mountain High!

Couldn't resist, could I?

Box Office Report:

Brokeback Mountain - $545,000
5 theatres - $109,000 theatre average

This is the highest theatre average for a non-animated film in box office history. The top slots all belong to Disney films.

American Film Institute's Top 10 Films of 2005:

Brokeback Mountain - Capote - Crash - The 40 Year Old Virgin - Good Night and Good Luck - A History of Violence - King Kong - Munich - The Squid and the Whale - Syriana

New York Film Critics Online:
Picture: The Squid and the Whale
Actor: Philip Seymour Hoffman - Capote
Actress: Keira Knightley - Pride and Prejudice
Supporting Actor: Oliver Platt - Casanova
Supporting Actress: Amy Adams - Junebug
Breakthrough Performer: Terrence Howard
Debut Director: Paul Haggis - Crash
Screenplay: Crash
Documentary: Grizzly Man
Foreign Language Film: Downfall
Animated Film: Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
Cinematography: March of the Penguins

Top 10 Films:
The Best of Youth - Brokeback Mountain - Capote - The Constant Gardener - Crash - Good Night and Good Luck - Munich - The Squid and the Wale - Syriana

Boston Society of Film Critics:
Picture: Brokeback Mountain (ru: Munich)
Director: Ang Lee - Brokeback Mountain (ru: Steven Spielberg - Munich)
Actor: Philip Seymour Hoffman - Capote (ru: Heath Ledger - Brokeback Mountain)
Actress: Reese Witherspoon - Walk the Line (ru: Keira Knightley - Pride and Prejudice)
Supporting Actor: Paul Giamatti - Cinderella Man (ru: Oliver Platt - Casanova & The Ice Harvest)
Supporting Actress: Catherine Keener - Capote & The 40 Year Old Virgin & The Ballad of Jack and Rose
Screenplay: Capote (ru: Munich)
Documentary: Murderball (ru: Grizzly Man)
New Filmmaker: Joe Wright - Pride and Prejudice (ru: Paul Haggis - Crash)
Ensemble: Syriana (ru: Crash)
Cinematography: Good Night and Good Luck (ru: Brokeback Mountain)
Foregin Film: Kung Fu Hustle (ru: 2046)

Los Angeles Film Critics Association:

Picture: Brokeback Mountain (ru: A History of Violence)
Director: Ang Lee - Brokeback Mountain (ru: David Cronenberg - A History of Violence)
Actor: Philip Seymour Hoffman - Capote (ru: Heath Ledger - Brokeback Mountain)
Actress: Vera Farmiga - Down to the Bone (ru: Judi Dench - Mrs. Henderson Presents)
Supporting Actress: Catherine Keener - The Ballad of Jack and Rose & Capote & The 40 Year Old Virgin & The Interpreter (ru: Amy Adams - Junebug)
Supporting Actor: William Hurt - A History of Violence (ru: Frank Langella - Good Night and Good Luck)
Screenplay: Capote & The Squid and the Whale (tie)

Broadcast Film Critics Association - Critics' Choice Awards

Best Picture:
Brokeback Mountain - Capote - Cinderella Man - The Constant Gardener - Crash - Good Night and Good Luck - King Kong - Memoirs of a Geisha - Munich - Walk the Line

Best Actor:
Russell Crowe - Cinderella Man
Philip Seymour Hoffman - Capote
Terrence Howard - Hustle & Flow
Heath Ledger - Brokeback Mountain
Joaquin Phoenix - Walk the Line
David Strathairn - Good Night and Good Luck

Best Actress:
Joan Allen - The Upside of Anger
Judi Dench - Mrs. Henderson Presents
Felicity Huffman - Transamerica
Keira Knightley - Pride & Prejudice
Charlize Theron - North Country
Reese Witherspoon - Walk the Line

Best Supporting Actor:
George Clooney - Syriana
Kevin Costner - The Upside of Anger
Matt Dillon - Crash
Paul Giamatti - Cinderella Man
Jake Gyllenhaal - Brokeback Mountain
Terrence Howard - Crash

Best Supporting Actress:
Amy Adams - Junebug
Maria Bello - A History of Violence
Catherine Keener - Capote
Frances McDormand - North Country
Rachel Weisz - The Constant Gardener
Michelle Williams - Brokeback Mountain

Best Acting Ensemble:
Crash - Good Night and Good Luck - Rent - Syriana - Sin City

Best Director:
George Clooney - Good Night and Good Luck
Paul Haggis - Crash
Ron Howard - Cinderella Man
Peter Jackson - King Kong
Ang Lee - Brokeback Mountain
Steven Spielberg - Munich

Best Writer:
Noah Baumbach - The Squid and the Whale
George Clooney & Grant Heslov - Good Night and Good Luck
Dan Futterman - Capote
Paul Haggis & Bobby Moresco - Crash
Larry McMurtry & Diana Ossana - Brokeback Mountain

To read the rest of their nominees, go here.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Ol' Brokeback Got Me Good: My Brokeback Mountain Review

PLEASE COMMENT ON THIS POST! It took me a few hours to write, so I'd appreciate any thoughts. When you see the film, please tell me what you thought.

For those of you worried about seeing this film because of the gay content, let me assure that it is NOT explicit. It may not be something you have seen before in a film, but the film’s more disturbing scenes are those of violence. At least, I hope you would think that. I'd also add that this story was written 1997. A full year before what happened in 1998. I don't want to spoil anything, but please don't be one of those people who thinks this is just ripping things from headlines to shock.

Sorry for the delay in commentary. I’m sure you lost sleep wondering what I thought of the film. :-)

I had the privilege of the seeing the film at a special screening in NYC on Sunday at the Walter Reade Theatre near Lincoln Center. The screenwriters were present, as I previously mentioned. The second screening was an Entertainment Weekly sponsored screening in Philadelphia (home to me for a brief year some time ago) on Thursday evening. It was wonderful being able to see this film twice before its theatrical release. Both audiences applauded at the end of the film.

During my first viewing of the film I found it hard to appreciate the film as a film. I knew practically every line and event coming, which doesn’t have anything to do with reading spoilers in other reviews so much as it does as knowing the short story the film is based on inside out. Instead, there was this awful checklist in my mind and I was mentally scratching off events as they occurred. This just happened, now this is coming next. That’s no way to view a film. After the first viewing, I still didn’t feel like I had seen Brokeback Mountain: The Movie so much as I had just read the short story again. I could appreciate the various elements in place such as the acting, cinematography, etc. You get the picture? Lucky for me, my seemingly dismal karma realigned itself and allowed a second viewing to take place only several days after the first viewing. Otherwise, I might have had to wait a month as I mulled over several things.

What you essentially get on screen is the short story, nothing added, rather expanded. Only a few events and lines of dialogue have been dismissed. But for everything missing, something else has been touched on that may have only been hinted at. That’s exactly how it all should have played out.

Brokeback Mountain is the story of two poor country boys, not a day over twenty, who are hired as ranch hands to tend sheep on the fictional, majestic Wyoming mountain. The stoic one is Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) who doesn’t say much and mumbles a lot. Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) is the more lively of the two, a wannabe rodeo rider. The two begin the summer of 1963 doing their job on the mountain, but as the days go on, they forge a friendship. Eventually one cold night of drinking, Ennis sleeps outside the tent freezing when Jack invites him in. Half passed out, Ennis finds himself fully awake when Jack makes a sexual advance, one Ennis at first violently rejects then violently reciprocates. In the morning, they say nothing. Meeting up later in the day overlooking the sheep, Ennis refers to the events as a “a one shot thing” and Jack adds “it’s nobody’s business but ours.” The next night, they tenderly make love. And thus, the epic saga of Brokeback Mountain begins.

The two part ways at the end of the summer with Ennis simply saying “see you around” as Jack, clearly yearning for something more, has no way to respond. Four years pass. Ennis has married his sweetheart Alma Beers (Michelle Williams) and now has two daughters, Alma Jr and Jenny (Francine in the short story.) He works poor paying jobs, and Alma eventually has to take a job at a grocery store to compensate. Jack has now moved to Childress, Texas to allow his dreams of becoming a rodeo king to come true. There, he doesn’t exactly fail, but has a hard time making it big. During one show, he meets a female rodeo rider, the well-off Lureen Newsome (Anne Hathaway). Lureen is forward and moments after meeting, the two are parked along side a road about to have sex. Lureen asks if she’s moving to fast, “Fast or slow, I just like the direction you’re going.” Might as well mean “Male or Female, I just want to get off.” Lureen eventually fathers Jack’s son and the two begin a marriage that is more like a partnership than a relationship.

Jack sends word back to Signal that he is passing through on business – he now works for Lureen’s “stud duck” of a father. The two agree to meet up and what happened on the mountain years earlier has affected them deeply. Jack suggests they could live together, but Ennis recalls a disturbing event in his past where a man was beaten to death and castrated, left for dead in a ditch because he was gay and lived with another man. With no real thoughts on how to deal with the situation, they agree to meet up annually on the mountain and spend several days with each other. And so it goes…

The years wear on, characters come in and out of their lives. Jack, once vivacious and a free spirit, has conformed and Gyllenhaal fully utilizes those sad, puppy dog blue eyes. Ennis grows increasingly confused and bursts with fits of violence, pushing those who care for him away. I’ll stop there, but know what follows is not a happy picture.

This is that rare of rarity, a movie where everything falls into place. There’s not a weak link to its name.

Shall we start with the writing? We shall. The screenplay is written by Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana, who deserve credit for fleshing out all of the details perfectly, for creating rich and vivid characters – lead and supporting. Most of all, they deserve credit for barely changing anything about the short story. Whereas most adaptations have to subtract, this one has to extend. I refuse to say “add.” Everything was already present, a blueprint waiting to be realized. There are several omissions from the story to the screen that I wish had been present. The prime example being Jack’s flashback to the emotional abuse his father provided. But within the context of the film, I’m not sure it would’ve worked. You sort of see everything you need to about Jack’s father late in the film.

McMurtry’s sole other feature film screenwriting credit is The Last Picture Show, of which we see shades here especially in the depiction of the barely changing small town lives. Whereas that film stood firmly between World War II and an uncertain, but hopeful American future, this one is in between the values and traditions of the new and old American West. In the old, cowboys were heroes and idols, something for young men to aspire to be. In the changing landscape, there’s barely room for them. As the film progresses, the cowboy becomes a relic of the past. Picture Show also is the definitive ensemble-actors movie. Brokeback isn’t an ensemble film, but it is an actor’s movie through and through. McMurtry and Ossana will win Oscars for their prestige project and deservedly so. As much as I love Picture Show the more apt comparison would be The Bridges of Madison County: classic rural setting, intimate and epic, wildy romantic, and filmed in a very old fashioned way.

Onto those actors. See, great performances lies in having the right actor for the right part. In the wrong part, the best of actors can look bad. I don’t think there is an actor out there who can play every part. I, personally, blame miscasting on whatever embarrassments have fallen on any of these actors before this film. Now, here it comes: Heath Ledger gives the best, most radical change of pace performance since Charlize Theron in Monster. It’s a performance like this that completely takes an actor who many thought was nothing more than a teen idol, an Aussie brute designed for the purpose of making young ladies swoon and then 10 years later wonder “hey, whatever happened to that guy?” and into the realm of, dare I say it?, Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro. Ledger may never give another great performance in his life, and he doesn’t need to. He’s reached a level with Ennis Del Mar that other actors only dream of touching. As the critic of the New York Times said, this is one for Hollywood history. Look at Ennis’ hands when he’s massaging a woman’s feet or eating pie towards the end and compare it to the way he handles the left behind sweater at the film’s end. You see range in his hands. He’s that good. His lovely bottom boy deserves just as much praise. Unfortunately for him, he gives the year’s best supporting male performance up against what is undoubtedly one of the best lead performances in a long time. Jack is obviously the more character, the one the audience can relate to more. And I’ll be damned if during the film’s first act when he is staring straight ahead trying to avoid what is going on to his left, you just don’t want to scream “LOOK, DAMN IT!” You’ll know what I’m talking about when you see the film. He’s the guy you fall in love with, but Ennis is the one who stays with you long after the film has ended.

Hey, there’s women in this! And what gals they are! Such as Jake’s plight, Michelle is stuck with having the Oscar clip to end all Oscar clips. She’s so phenomenal in her confrontation scene that I think many forgot just how subtle, yet expressive she is in several other scenes. Her eyes say it all. Ang Lee is famous for the way he uses “quiet glances” and Williams is the reigning queen of those in the film. Michelle demonstrates the ability of a fine character actress, with the face of the sweet girl next door. Miss Hathaway is seen less yet has a strong arc. Lureen is only described two times in the story: first, as a sweet Texas rodeo queen. Secondly, again as sweet, but as cold as snow. These descriptions are about 15 years apart, and Hathaway is only seen in spades in the film. Her total screentime doesn’t exceed 10 minutes. However, you see that arc. In particular, Hathaway’s final scene may be one of the few that plays better in the film than it does in the book. That icy, cold detachment in her voice is eerily there, and that little bit of breaking Hathaway gives Lureen in her triumphant final scene lets the actress slam that baby right out of the ballpark. A lot has been written about potentially being distracted by some of the wigs of the character, but she is a wealthy, tacky Texas woman. What do you expect?

And for all the heteromales/homogals, you do see Anne’s and Michelle’s breasts. (Hey, gotta pander, don’t I?) For the rest, you get a some male ass and a nude-jumping-off-the-rocks-into-the-water scene. Though Anne and Michelle leave their mark, the best female moments come later in the film in the form of a mother’s acceptance and a daughter’s hope. Moving stuff.

Anna Faris, sadly, appears only for a brief scene. I’ve noticed that the actress seems to take small parts in great films (Lost In Translation, May) and big parts in bad films (Just Friends, Scary Movie 2) but I’ll take whatever Anna I can get. The scene where her on-screen husband (Tony-nominated stage actor David Harbour) makes a crack at her expense got the biggest laugh at both screenings I attended. The character of Cassie (Linda Cardellini) is alluded to in a single sentence in the short story, as is the grown up Alma, Jr (Kate Mara.) Mara is a fresh talent I want to see more of. Both characters haven’t been given much in life, yet face it all with sweet and gentle warmth.

Given that the film takes place over 20 years and with all those characters coming in and out, you need some strong editing to keep this baby flowing. The word ‘slow’ has been used way too much to describe the pacing. Perhaps the more positive sounding absorbing is appropriate. I’ve never found any of Ang Lee’s films particularly slow, all of them were properly paced. There were two editors working on the film, as the original woman, Geraldine Peroni committed suicide just as production ended. The film’s dual flashbacks are fitted to the film at just the right moments. I was surprised just how effective the second one works. That dizzying shot of Jack in a dreamlike state says everything that needs to be said. This happens to be many people’s favorite moment of the short story, and I thought maybe they kept the continuity of the story by having it occur earlier. Alas, it was used late in the film just as it was in the short story.

It would be very hard to make the grand vistas of “Wyoming” (actually Calgary) ugly. But taking a break from just how gorgeous and gargantuan the backdrop is, let me say who the blue sky presented in a film has never seemed so blue. What’s particularly amazing about Rodrigo Priteo’s lush cinematography is that he fully resists the urge to any masturbatory shots. (This, I firmly believe, is where Gus Van Sant had he chosen to directe it, would’ve fucked things up. I also think his obsession with slightly kitschy garb would’ve been too distracting. Sorry for the tangent. Back on track…) There are some that inspire awe, but never did I feel that what I was seeing was in any way manipulative. The land exists as the background, and the characters are in the foreground. It’s a visual film with many extraordinary shots – the first image is quite glorious – but it’s secondary. The intimacy and later isolation is depicted brilliantly (i.e. Lureen’s final scene, done in closeup; and another closeup, the hotel scene). The final shot of the film is one of the best in modern cinema.

Gustavo Santaolalla is fastly becoming the most exciting film composer working. This is, by far, his crowing achievement. The blend of guitar and violins in the score creates such a sad, contemplative mix. The track on the soundtrack titled “The Wings” – used twice in the film, most effectively at the end – is one of the most heartbreakingly beautiful pieces of film music I’ve ever heard. It adds an extra layer of sadness to the film with the way the music flows over that final scene when you consider a line of a dialogue Ennis tells his daughters earlier in the film. Think for a moment about what “The Wings” is referring to. You know all those sappy scores that typically accompany films like this? You won’t hear any of that here. Gustavo also wrote several of the songs in the film, the apex being “A Love That Will Never Grow Old” which I was hoping would be better utilized in the film. (It’s the song that’s playing in Jack’s truck on his way back from Wyoming before he goes to Mexico.) Watch for a cameo by indie rocker Mary McBride as a country bar singer singing another one of the soundtrack’s great tunes “No One’s Gonna Love You Like Me.” All of the music in the film fits perfectly. There is even some more famous stuff present such as Linda Rondstadt’s “It’s So Easy.”

When you have all of these elements, all with the potential to be great and it all comes together, you know it’s the work of a master. Ang Lee, that would be. Brokeback Mountain contains many elements and themes he’s examined before: societal repression, homosexuality, class examinations, forbidden love, epic grandeur, quiet intimacy and angry men that go into fits and leap miles into the air. Okay, so it doesn’t have that last one. It doesn’t have an Aussie in the lead like Hulk. I once read the mark of a great director is that you never see the directing. You can’t see the strings being pulled, or the pieces of the puzzle individually being placed together. It just all is there for you to see and take in. That’s the mark of Ang Lee. He’s a very old fashioned filmmaker, no modern kicks involved. This is his strongest work yet, an amazing feat given the masterpieces that are Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and The Ice Storm.


A revolutionary concoction of indie, romance, epic, mainstream, actor’s showcase, gay-themed and western, Brokeback Mountain is one of the defining motion picture events of our time. This is a film for people who love cinema, who dare to be moved by an art form. With it’s illustrious director at the height of his power, several of the performances of the year, stunning visuals and sweeping score, it gets everything right. In an age when films are manufactured for box office and awards just to get box office, Brokeback Mountain dares to take something old and make it new again. It soars to new highs, but in the end, no matter how high this mountain may be, there’s no denying that lingering feeling it leaves. It floors you.

Those sheep, however, were Razzie-worthy. :-)

Friday, December 09, 2005

Brokeback Mountain: It's Here. It's Queer. Get Used To It.


Those of you unlucky enough to not live in the three major cities that are getting the movie today, I'll have some fun stuff later to help you pass the Brokeback blues.

My review will be up by tomorrow. After two viewings, let's hope I'll be able to comment properly. Hope you enjoy.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Box Office Predictions: Dec. 9 - 11

Brokeback Mountain
Estimated Theatre Count: 5
Predicted 3-day Gross: $375,000
Per Theatre Average: $75,000

Memoirs of a Geisha
Estimated Theatre Count: 8
Predicted 3-day Gross: $500,000
Per Theatre Average: $62,500

1. Chronicles of Narnia - $58m / $58m / $250m
2. Syriana - $12m / $13.5m / $35m
3. Harry Potter - $10.5m / $244m / $270m
4. Walk the Line - $6m / $77m / $100m
5. Aeon Flux - $5m / $21m / $30m
6. Yours, Mine & Ours - $4.5m / $40m / $48m
7. Just Friends - $3m / $25.5m / $31m
8. Pride and Prejudice - $3m / $26.5m / $38m
9. Chicken Little - $2.5m / $127.5m / $133m
10. Rent - $2.5m / $27.5m / $32m

ugh! i'm, like, totally stuck in this outfit

Countdown to Brokeback Mountain: Darren Sees McMurtry & Ossana

My review of the film will be up by the end of the week. I'm seeing it again on Thursday and will hopefully be able to discuss it more thoroughly by then. In the meantime, the screening I attended had two very special guests: Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana, the screenwriters and producers of the film.

If you've read any interviews or articles about them before, most of what they covered in Sunday night's discussion was previously mentioned with the exception of the following noted things:

+They discussed why they were so keen on getting Ang Lee to direct. It had to do with Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and the way Lee related the characters and the landscape; people being trapped by societal conventions from birth, etc. They felt it was important to have that same approach on Brokeback Mountain. McMurtry added that he likes Michelle Yeoh.

+They talked about Heath Ledger and why Monster's Ball was the reason he was cast. Not too shocking if you've seen Monster's Ball.

+They once again brought up why the film shouldn't be labeled "the gay cowboy movie." As Ossana said, that would be like calling McMurtry's own Lonesome Dove a book "just about a cattle drive."

+When responding to a question of potential controversy, they said they aren't too worried. Thus far, there isn't any. Whether that will continue is another story.

+How the film was written and their general writing process was another topic. McMurtry only writes 5 pages a day, normally before breakfast, to keep momentum. Ossana does the rewriting and a lot of editing of McMurtry's material. The two have a good chemistry and Diana likes to tease Larry about his dislike of modernities such as cell phones and computers. Diana is also very pretty and I was tempted to ask if she has her Oscar dress picked out yet, being a future double nominee after all. Larry has a comforting, grandfathery vibe.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Countdown to Brokeback Mountain: Major Publication Updates

Ebert & Roeper: "Two BIG Thumbs Up"

Ebert said it "has Oscar written all over it." Roeper raved Ledger, and added that anyone who has a problem with the story should just "get over it."

People Magazine: 4 stars

Rolling Stone: 4 stars

Entertainment Weekly: Grade A

To read Entertainment Weekly's cover story, go here.

My favorite quote:

''Heath and I made love,'' Jake says, with an impish grin, ''and they got a baby out of it.'' -Gyllenhaal on Ledger and Michelle Williams' lovechild.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Oscar Posters

These popped up about 3 days ago, but ah well. I LOVE them. Now, let's get Ellen, Conan or Jon Stewart to host, Rachel McAdams to present, get all the original artists to perform (FUCK BEYONCE!) and do away with that Miss America/all-the-contestants-on-stage shit and we'll be good to go. Oh, and the running time should be a minimum of 3.5 hours. Yes, I just did.

Countdown To Brokeback Mountain: Pre-Movie Thoughts

Just a quick update before I see the movie Sunday night. I'll have my thoughts on it sometime Monday evening. The countdown will continue even after that, so there's still more stuff to come. Actually, my coverage of this movie will probably last all the way till March. There's not as much protesting and contorversy about the film at this point oddly enough. Maybe they are holding off until release? Or maybe they realized that if they want the movie to fail, they would be best to shutup and not create any more buzz for it.

HA-HA! As if...

I've been looking forward to this movie since its first announcement. No, not when Ang released Hulk. I'm talking all the way back when Gus Van Sant was attached and wanted Matt Damon and Ben Affleck to star. (This thought now scares me.) I believe it may have been 1998. Nothing happened with the film and eventually Van Sant and Damon and that other dude went on to other things. While promoting Hulk, Ang Lee announced this would be his next project. I had all but forgotten about it. It seemed exciting that this film would be made. I adore Ang Lee's films. Even I liked Hulk. It's criminally underrated. The Ice Storm and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon are about two of my favorite all time movies. I love films that take their time and completely absorb you, fully evocative. Rumors circulated about potential casting (fan picks were Viggo Mortensen and Brad Pitt). In January of 2004, Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal were cast. As a Gyllenhaalic since 1999, this was terrific news. I believe I sent out a mass e-mail regarding the casting, as I had a tendency to do when I didn't have a blog. Ah, the pre-blog Darren days. I might as well have been churning my own butter and sewing my clothes. Yes, Gyllenhaal as a gay cowboy. If that's not news worth delighting in, I don't know what is. Heath Ledger - I was unsure of. He had demonstrated charisma in the dismal A Knight's Tale and the enjoyable 10 Things I Hate About You. But The Order sucked. So did Four Feathers. I thought he looked great in the movie, even though he looked very androgynous - a look I don't typically go for but somehow did for him. However, there was one shining ray of hope in his filmography: Monster's Ball. He's barely in the film for 10 minutes, but created such a lasting impression. At this point in time, I hadn't read the short story from which the film was based. I had no idea that his character Ennis Del Mar was practically his Monster's Ball character extended to feature length. The two leads were cast, and the movie would begin filming in the summer.

Additional cast members came on board. I believe Anne Hathaway was next, then Michelle Williams. Not too sure about the exact order. Hathway, I love. Well, I loved her in one thing. I caught The Princess Diaries on TV one day when I was waiting for delivery men to deliver my big screen TV. It was truly delightful. She had genuine movie star qualities, a dark haired Julia Roberts. She actually got the part in the movie because she fell off her chair in the audition. Garry Marshall hired her right away. The princess would become a queen for Brokeback. A rodeo queen. Michelle Williams, unlike her Dawson's Creek costars, seemed to be trying to earn cred the old fashioned way: by demonstrating real talent. She carved out a small stack of indies. She kept working. It's sad that Dawson's Creek is her biggest exposure to the mainstream as it's easily her worst work. Not saying she is bad on it, just that when you compare it to her roles in Dick and The Station Agent, you start to realize just how much she was wasting on the teen soap. Hey, I'm a pretty big Dawson's Creek fan, mostly the first 2 seasons though. I also prefer Michelle as a brunette.

The rest of the cast was gradually filled out, and filming began. Most of the film's production was fairly quiet. Filmed in Calgary, Alberta Canada, on a budget of not much more than $12 or 13 million, everything was lowkey. Information and behind the scenes pictures were few and far between. At least from where I could see. It came to my attention that Gustavao Santaolalla would be doing the music for the film. I was thrilled about this. I loved his work on 21 Grams and had listened to many samples of his other work. I just adore his rough but passionate music, heavily using guitar. Filming ended in August. There was one last thing for me to do that would hopefully make me more excited for the film.

December 25th, 2004, while waiting for my parents to return home from my aunt's house, I read Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx. My first thought after reading it was that it would make a really great movie. Hearing the various chatter about the script being the best in the biz for nearly a decade was fully confirmed. The story was heartbreaking, intimate yet epic. If you know me, you know I don't really "cry." Okay, so a few episodes of Gilmore Girls have had me in tears, almost. I'm girly like that at times. But I love when I'm into something and I'm being totally impacted by it that I just feel strapped in my seat. Completely breathless. Only a few works have done that. I think it's an emotion much better than crying. Proulx's writing just had this flow, this original quality to it. It was very direct. As is my understanding, it's not for everyone. I barely read, sadly. I should do it more.

Over the past year, I've read the story almost half a dozen times. It gets better with each reading. I plan on reading it again before seeing the film on Sunday night, and I'm rewatching one of my favorite films, The Last Picture Show. The screening I'm going to will be featuring the screenwriters of the movie Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana. Last Picture is one of the McMurtry's most famed works. He cowrote the screenplay with Peter Bogdanovich. Ang Lee has stated he based Brokeback Mountain on the westerns of McMurtry such as Picture Show and Hud. They aren't westerns in the typical regard, rather depict life of western towns which don't change much even if the rest of the world can't stop evolving. If the film plays like a cross between Last Picture Show and the short story, I can't imaging it not being perfect.

The most I want from the film is for it to be the short story on the screen. I'd like to think of Proulx's words while seeing Lee's films. I'd like to read the story again and see Ang's film while reading Proulx's words. The film will flesh out small details without distracting from the big picture. The two will be able to go hand in hand, complete as one. As is my understanding, they do. We shall see.

As you can hopefully see, I'm looking forward to this movie, my most anticipated movie ever, more for these reasons then some of the obvious ones. Yes, it is "that gay cowboy movie." But once you hear the story, I'd doubt you say that. While the story wouldn't be at all the same if they weren't gay or cowboys, by the end, it hardly matters. I could really care less about the sex scenes and if they are shocking or not. They are there, and therefore the film is faithful to the short story. I can't tell you how in line to perfection this film is for me.

Here are some of my favorite moments from the short story:

+Alma's confrontation with Ennis - though it does contain the one part of the story I don't like: "Jack Nasty." Eww. That's in the movie, apparently. If Michelle Williams can deliver that line without making me cringe, give her the Oscar now.

+the embrace by the fire

+the shirts

Remember the scene of Meryl Streep clutching the car door handle in The Bridges of Madison County - one of the few movie romances that can almost make me cry. That scene has nothing on the shirts. Just wait. In fact, The Bridges of Madison County is a pretty good comparison for this entire film and its literary basings, I suppose. But whatever. My favorite lines from the short story are the last couple of paragraphs, which I won't spoil. I just thought I'd share that.

Anywho, I'm off till Monday when I'll share my thoughts with my friends and the blogging world on the film.

Maybe I should watch an Ang Lee movie...

should I go with the one that people consider slow?

or the one about the people battling societal repression?


Thursday, December 01, 2005

Golden Satellite Nominations: Go Geisha and Brokeback!!!

These are sometimes beyond weird, and this year is no exception.

Put it like this: this is an organization(?) that puts Jake Gyllenhaal in for lead and supporting for Jarhead. But that could be a typo. So put it like this instead: this is the type of organization(?) that makes typos in its press releases for nominees.


Viggo & Maria, Lauren Graham, Amy Adams, Keira Knightley, Felicity Huffman's double nod, Walk the Line, Crash's ensemble, Rachel McAdams and all things Brokeback.

Here are the (weird) nominees:

• A History of Violence
• Capote
• Brokeback Mountain
• Cinderella Man
• Memoirs of a Geisha
• The War Within

• Rent
• Shopgirl
• Hustle & Flow
• Happy Endings
• Walk the Line
• Kung Fu Hustle

• Ang Lee - Brokeback Mountain
• George Clooney - Good Night, and Good Luck.
• James Mangold - Walk the Line
• Chris Columbus - Rent
• Bennett Miller - Capote
• Rob Marshall - Memoirs of a Geisha

• Philip Seymour Hoffman - Capote
• David Strathairn - Good Night, and Good Luck.
• Jake Gyllenhaal - Jarhead
• Tommy Lee Jones - The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
• Heath Ledger - Brokeback Mountain
• Viggo Mortensen - A History of Violence

• Charlize Theron - North Country
• Julianne Moore - The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio
• Robin Wright Penn - Nine Lives
• Ziyi Zhang - Memoirs of a Geisha
• Felicity Huffman - Transamerica
• Toni Collette - In Her Shoes

• Terrence Howard - Hustle & Flow
• Bill Murray - Broken Flowers
• Kevin Costner - The Upside of Anger
• Joaquin Phoenix - Walk the Line
• Robert Downey, Jr - Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
• Cillian Murphy - Breakfast On Pluto

• Judi Dench - Mrs. Henderson Presents
• Joan Allen - The Upside of Anger
• Claire Danes - Shopgirl
• Reese Witherspoon - Walk the Line
• Joan Plowright - Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont
• Keira Knightley - Pride & Prejudice

• Mickey Rourke - Sin City
• Jake Gyllenhaal - Brokeback Mountain
• Edward Norton - Kingdom of Heaven
• Peter Sarsgaard - Jarhead
• Chris Cooper - Capote
• Danny Huston - The Constant Gardener

• Frances McDormand - North Country
• Laura Linney - The Squid and the Whale
• Maria Bello - A History of Violence
• Gong Li - Memoirs of a Geisha
• Shirley MacLaine - In Her Shoes
• Amy Adams - Junebug

• Tom Arnold - Happy Endings
• Steve Coogan - Happy Endings
• Jason Schwartzman - Shopgirl
• Val Kilmer - Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
• Craig T. Nelson - The Family Stone
• Corbin Bernsen - Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

• Qiu Yuen - Kung Fu Hustle
• America Ferrera - The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
• Michelle Monaghan - Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
• Rachel McAdams - The Family Stone
• Diane Keaton - The Family Stone
• Rosario Dawson - Rent

• Don Roos - Happy Endings
• Noah Baumbach - The Squid and the Whale
• George Clooney & Grant Heslov - Good Night, and Good Luck.
• Rodrigo Garcia - Nine Lives
• Ayad Akhtar, Joseph Castelo, Tom Glynn - The War Within
• Paul Haggis & Bobby Moresco - Crash

• Larry McMurty & Diana Ossana - Brokeback Mountain
• Dan Futterman - Capote
• Robin Swicord - Memoirs of a Geisha
• William Broyles, Jr - Jarhead
• Steve Martin - Shopgirl
• Gil Dennis & James Mangold - Walk the Line

• Walk On Water - Israel
• Innocent Voices - Mexico
• Lila Says - France
• Mother of Mine - Finland
• 2046 - China
• Turtles Can Fly - Iran

• Howl's Moving Castle
• Corpse Bride
• Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
• Chicken Little
• The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe

• March of the Penguins
• Mad Hot Ballroom
• Murderball
• New York Dolls
• Favela Rising
• Enron: The Smartest Guys In the Room

• Alberto Iglesias - The Constant Gardener
• John Williams - Memoirs of a Geisha
• Danny Elfman - Corpse Bride
• Harry Gregson-Williams - Kingdom of Heaven
• Robert Rodriguez - Sin City
• Gustavo Santaolalla - Brokeback Mountain

• "A Love That Will Never Grow Old" - Brokeback Mountain
• "In The Deep" - Crash
• "Broken" - Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
• "Hustler's Ambition" - Get Rich Or Die Tryin'
• "Magic Works" - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

• Robert Rodriguez - Sin City
• Philippe Rousselot - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
• Dion Beebe - Memoirs of a Geisha
• Cesar Charlone - The Constant Gardener
• Hang-Sang Poon - Kung Fu Hustle
• Christopher Doyle - 2046

• Robert Rodriguez - Sin City
• Angie Lam - Kung Fu Hustle
• Walter Murch - Jarhead
• Michael Kahn - War of the Worlds
• Stephen Mirrione - Good Night, and Good Luck.
• Geraldine Peroni & Dylan Tichenor - Brokeback Mountain

• Jeanette Scott & David Hack - Sin City
• John Myhre - Memoirs of a Geisha
• Arthur Max - Kingdom of Heaven
• Jim Hissell - Good Night, and Good Luck
• Gavin Bocquet & Richard Roberts - Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
• Luigi Marchione & Vlad Vieru - Modigliani

• Colleen Atwood - Memoirs of a Geisha
• Jacqueline Durran - Pride & Prejudice
• John Bright - The White Countess
• Pam Downe - Modigliani
• Janty Yates - Kingdom of Heaven
• Jany Temime - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

• Sin City
• Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
• Kung Fu Hustle
• The White Countess
• Rent

• Sin City
• Kung Fu Hustle
• Kingdom of Heaven
• Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
• War of the Worlds